Statement by Minister in The Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane at the Ethiopian National Day
28 May 2012
Ambassador Yeshimebrat Mersha Kassa
Ambassadors and High Commissioners;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is my pleasure and a great honour for me to represent the South African Government at this very special day for the Government and the people of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
I wish to, on behalf of President Jacob Zuma, government and the people of South Africa, congratulate the Government and the people of Ethiopia on this occasion and wish them all the best for the future.
This day marks an historic event in the history of the people of Ethiopia. Since then the people of Ethiopia have come a long way in mitigating against challenges they have faced.
In January this year, we marked the centenary of the African National Congress’ (ANC). For us, it was not just celebrating a hundred years of the oldest liberation movement on the continent, but a celebration and commemoration of all the struggles and the support we gave to each other in the most difficult of times.
In this regard we should recall that the relationship between South Africa and Ethiopia was forged during the difficult times of the liberation struggle. It was Ethiopia who provided crucial support to the ANC when the organisation embarked on an armed struggle and offered military training to the first Umkhonto we Sizwe cadres, including amongst them a young Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Our relations with Ethiopia and its people only grew from strength to strength since then, as Ethiopia is to us, an anchor state in its region and continues to play a role in IGAD amongst the East African States.
Last month, the 2nd South Africa-Ethiopia Joint Ministerial Commission was held on the 17th of April in Addis Ababa. This meeting was preceded by a meeting of Senior Officials on 15th and 16th of April. The meeting was co-chaired by the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and the Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hailemariam Desalegn.
The two foreign Ministers also agreed on a package of enhanced cooperation on issues related to multilateralism, regional security, economic and trade matters and signed an Implementation Plan to ensure that agreements and identified projects are operationalised. This means that we are working tirelessly at government level to open the channels for closer cooperation between our people and our markets.
We hope that the vision we have for a free trade zone between SADC, COMESA and the EAC will soon be realised and the corridors that link our lands and economies be opened for the benefit of all.
In conclusion, I would like to offer a toast to the Government and people of Ethiopia and wish them all the best for their future endeavours and to the lasting friendship between our two beloved countries.
I thank you.